Posts Tagged ‘dessert’

Lemon cake for any sweet tooth

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

As is the case with most food, nothing compares with dishes or desserts that are freshly made. Not only are home baked cakes a treat, they are a great way to get children interested in the kitchen.

This glazed lemon cake needs to rest for an hour after being removed from the oven so that the glaze can harden. The cake can also be made one day in advance, and is delicious with morning coffee or afternoon tea.

Glazed lemon cake; serves ten

Cake mixture Ingredients

Finely-grated zest of 2.5 lemons

5 whole eggs

350g (12oz) caster sugar

A pinch of salt

Juice of 1 lemon

150ml (5fl oz) double cream

275g (10oz) plain flour

10g (1/4oz baking powder

100g (4oz) unsalted butter, melted Butter and flour for lining baking tin

Glaze Ingredients

Juice of half a lemon

100g (4oz) icing sugar

2 tablespoons orange marmalade

Equipment

30cm x 10cm x 8cm cake tin

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Combine the lemon zest, eggs, caster sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Whisk at top speed for five to seven minutes until the mixture has thickened. Add the lemon juice towards the end.

2. Place the bowl on a work surface and fold in the cream. Sieve the flour and baking powder over the mixture and fold in delicately with a spatula. At this stage, add the melted butter, little by little, folding and lifting the mixture gently.

3. Grease the inside of the cake tin with butter, then dust with flour – about 10g (quarter ounce) of each. Turn the tin over and knock it against the table to remove excess flour.

4. Pour the cake mixture into the prepared tin, ensuring that the mixture reaches up to 2cm from the top. Place on the middle rack in the preheated oven and cook for 55 minutes.

5. The cake will be cooked when the top is slightly convex. To be certain, slide a needle into the middle of the cake and wait two seconds. Remove the needle, which should be very clean and hot.

Remove the cake from the oven, and turn on to a cooling rack for at least an hour until cold.

6. Increase the oven temperature to 200C.

7. To glaze the cake, thoroughly mix the lemon juice and the icing sugar until you get a loose, homogeneous mixture.

8. Warm the orange marmalade in a small casserole. Place the cake on a pastry sheet and, using a pastry brush, glaze the top and sides with the marmalade. This forms a base onto which the icing can fix itself.

9. Cool down for five minutes. Lightly heat the lemon and icing sugar for one minute until just warm, then brush over the cake. Place the cake in the oven for 30 seconds.

10.Remove the cake from the oven and allow to rest for a further hour so that the glaze can solidify. When it is completely cold, it is ready to serve.

Soufflé is a breath of French air

Sunday, January 4th, 2009

Soufflé is a delicious, light dessert, but one that requires perfect timing in order for it to be enjoyed at its best. It will remain risen for only a minute or two, so ensure your guests are seated and ready once the soufflés leave the oven.

A little pre-preparation is best for this recipe. Firstly, ensure your soufflé moulds (ramekins) are properly prepared before starting, as otherwise the soufflé may not rise evenly. You will need six 150ml ramek in dishes for this recipe.

Prepare the ramekins by brushing the inside base and sides with a generous layer of melted butter using vertical strokes. Refrigerate until set. Brush again with a second layer of butter, and then coat the inside of the ramekins with grated chocolate by sprinkling in the chocolate and rotating the ramekin, so that the sides and the base are evenly coated.

Pre-heat your oven to 190 degrees centigrade (gas mark5 ).You can prepare the cre’me pátissie’re base in advance if you like and keep it chilled.

Citrus Souffle´ with Grand Marnier (serves six)

Créme Pátissiére base Ingredients

150ml milk
100ml double cream
40g caster sugar
15g plain flour
10g cornflour
3 large egg yolks (free-range)

Method

1. Sift the flour and cornflour together in a bowl. Heat the milk and cream in a heavy based saucepan with one tablespoon of sugar, until it starts to boil.
2. Beat the egg yolks and remaining sugar together in a large bowl, then beat in the flour a little at a time. Slowly pour on a third of the hot milk, whisking well so the mixture stays smooth. Whisk this back into the pan.
3. Simmer gently, whisking continuously for about three or four minutes until the mixture is smooth and thickened. Remove the mixture from the heat and put in a bowl. Cover and cool, stirring the mixture occasionally so that a skin does not form.

Soufflé mixture

Ingredients

Créme Pátissiére base
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
Grated zest of 1 large orange
500ml freshly squeezed orange juice
3 tablespoons grand marnier
2 large free-range egg whites
50g caster sugar
To coat the soufflé moulds
40g unsalted butter (melted) 4-6 tablespoons grated chocolate

Method

1. Mix the citrus zests into the Créme Pátissiére base. Pour the lemon juice and all of the orange juice into a saucepan and boil until reduced to 200ml.
2. Stir into the Créme Pátissiére and allow to cool. Mix in the grand marnier.
3. Whisk the egg whites in a bowl until they are stiff. Gradually whisk in the sugar, then carefully fold the egg whites and sugar into the Créme Pátissiére mixture using a wooden spatula. Ensure you fold from bottom to top, starting from the centre and going towards the left. At the same time the bowl is rotated in the opposite direction. This will ensure the soufflé mixture is well mixed while the whites keep their fluffy consistency.
4. Soufflés are always served in the moulds in which they are cooked. Ensure your moulds are correctly prepared and spoon the mixture into the dishes. Use a knife to level the mixture at the top of the mould.
5. Place on a baking tray and bake for 12-15 minutes until the soufflés are risen and golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve immediately — remember you only have a minute or two before they start to lose their air and deflate.

Place the ramekin dish on a dessert plate and serve with a spoon of vanilla ice cream or a sorbet of your choice.

You can also pierce a hole in the top of the soufflé and pour warm chocolate sauce into the centre for added decadence.

Dessert tartlet a plum choice

Sunday, November 2nd, 2008


Practically the last indigenous fresh fruit of the year, plums will be in most shops over the next few weeks, and offer a real taste of autumn.

There are lots of ways to cook with plums; for example, try making a crumble or a simple compote to be spooned over hot porridge in the morning.

This recipe first appeared on our menu almost 20 years ago, when it was a firm favourite with our guests in the Wine Epergne Restaurant. It’s now on Thornton’s menu, where it is served with a choice of ice creams.

The crème patissière element of the dish is the base for a lot of sweet soufflé’s and also for fillings for tarts. Most recipes will need about half the amount I’ve given here, but it’s best to make it in larger quantities. You can refrigerate the rest for up to three days. You’ll need an ice cream machine to make the ice cream; otherwise, use a good quality bought chocolate ice cream with a high cocoa content.

Plum tartlet with chocolate ice cream and lemongrass sauce


Ingredients, serves eight
600g tart pastry
14 ripe plums (slice about ten plums and dice the flesh of the remainder)
Crème patissière
Chocolate ice cream
Lemongrass sauce
Tart pastry (pâte sucrée)
250g soft butter
18oz caster sugar
3-4 vanilla pods
2large free range eggs, beaten
500g plain flour
Two pinches of fine sea salt

Tartlet method
1. Beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl using a hand-held electric mixer until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
2. Slit the vanilla pods down the middle, scoop out the seeds and add them to the mixture.
3. Turn the mixer down to a slow speed and add the beaten eggs until the mixture completely binds.
4. Sift the flour and salt together in a separate bowl. Keep the mixer on the slowest speed as you add the flour and salt to the creamed butter and sugar in little amounts, until the mixture becomes a crumbly dough.
5. Turn mixture out on to a lightly-floured cool surface and knead it until it’s smooth (should only take a few kneads). Be careful not to overwork it and don’t allow it to get too soft.
6. Cut the dough into eight batches and wrap in cling film. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
7. Remove the dough from the fridge and knead it again gently for a few minutes. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface using quick, gentle strokes, taking care not to use too much pressure.
8. Line eight tartlet moulds with pastry and set aside.

Crème patissière
350ml milk
150ml double cream
75g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod
1 large free range egg
3 large free range egg yolks
40g cornflour

Method
1. Put the milk and cream in a saucepan with one tablespoon of the sugar and the vanilla pod, and bring to the boil slowly.
2. Whisk the egg, egg yolks and remaining sugar together in a bowl until creamy.
3. Sift a third of the cornflour into the bowl and whisk thoroughly. Make sure the mixture remains a smooth consistency. Sift in and whisk the rest of the cornflour in two batches.
4. When the milk and cream is almost at boiling point, pour a third of it on to the egg mixture, beating well. Remove the vanilla pod. Return the egg mixture to the pot, whisking all the time as you let the mixture simmer gently for about three to four minutes.
5. Make sure the mixture is smooth and cooked through, then remove from heat and pour into a bowl. Cover and allow to cool, then place in the fridge until ready to use.

Chocolate ice-cream
Ice cream machine
500ml of cream
500ml of milk
10 egg yolks
Seeds of 1 vanilla pod
125g icing sugar
125 71 per cent dark chocolate
125g 62 per cent chocolate
25g 71 per cent of grated
chocolate chips
1 tsp cocoa powder

Method
1. Mix the egg yolks, vanilla seeds and icing sugar in a bowl with a spatula.
2. Line the bottom of a pot with a drop of water and add the milk and cream, then bring the mixture to the boil. Pour half of the liquid into the egg yolks and mix well with a spatula. Pour the egg mixture back into the pot and return to the heat.
3. Cook the mixture over a medium heat until you see the first bubble, then remove from the heat. Be careful not to allow it to boil as it will separate.
4. Chop the chocolate into small pieces and add to the liquid along with the cocoa powder. Stir with a spatula until the chocolate has melted. Do not use a metal spoon.
5. Place the pot into a bowl of iced water and allow to cool.
6. Place your mixture into an ice cream machine and when the ice cream is almost set, add the chocolate chips. Remove and place into a sterilised container, cover and freeze.

Lemongrass sauce
500ml water
250g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod
4 sticks of lemongrass (whole)
1 slice of ginger
20g unsalted butter
Juice of two lemons

Method
1. Place all the ingredients, except the butter, into a stainless steel pot and bring to the boil. Cook until the liquid reduces by two-thirds, then remove from the heat and pass through a fine sieve.
2. Heat the sauce again in a stainless steel pot over a medium heat until it boils, then fold in the butter and remove.

To assemble the dish
1. Put about a tablespoon of crème patissière into each tartlet mould and divide the chopped plum among the moulds. Arrange slices of plum in a circle on top.
2. Bake in an oven heated to 175C for about ten minutes.
3. Plate with a spoonful of ice cream on top of the tart, pour a little warm lemongrass sauce over, and serve.

Make the most of pears

Sunday, October 26th, 2008

There are lots of ways to enjoy pears. You can use them with apple and raisins to make a delicious chutney – which is great with cheese – or poach them with cinnamon and red wine. One of my favourite pear recipes is a variation of tart tatin.

Pears produce a lot of liquid during cooking, so there are a few ways you can prevent the pastry from becoming soggy. Either drain off some of the liquid after about 15minutes of baking, or after the tart is fully cooked, and invert it onto a lipped baking sheet to collect the juice. Then pour the juice over the pears and pastry and put it back in the oven to bake for a further ten minutes or so.

Alternatively, you can avoid doing either by refrigerating the pears (once cut and cored) overnight. This will dry them out, allowing the caramel to be more intense.

Caramelised pear tatin served with lemon cream, serves 4
Tatin ingredients:

Six conference pears
300g ready made puff pastry
100g softened butter
100g caster sugar
A heavy ovenproof frying pan (no other cooking tins are needed)

Tart method

1. Peel the pears and cut into quarters. Remove the cores.
2. In a frying pan, melt the butter and sugar over a high heat until it bubbles. Shake and stir the mixture so that it caramelises. Lay the pears on top and cook in the sauce for about ten minutes until the pears soften, tossing them occasionally to ensure they’re covered in caramelised butter.
3. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool a little. Arrange the pears in a circle with the cut side up, ending up with one in the middle.
4. Roll out the pastry to more than cover the circumference of the pan and drape it over the edges. Tuck the edges of the pastry in and under the pears at the edge of the pan. Pierce about five or six holes in the top of the pastry.
5. Bake in a preheated oven (200C) for 15 minutes and then reduce the heat to 180C. Bake for a further ten to 15 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.
6. Remove from the oven and let it rest for about ten or 15 minutes before inverting onto a large serving plate.


Lemon cream ingredients

40g caster sugar
125g mascarpone
150ml double cream
Four large lemons

Lemon cream method

1. Finely grate, zest and juice the lemons.
2. Mix the lemon zest with the sugar in a bowl.
3. Put the lemon juice into a small pot and bring to the boil until the liquid reduces right down to about an egg-cupful. Pour into bowl containing the zest and sugar and allow it to cool.
4. Add the mascarpone and beat.
5. In a separate bowl, whip the cream until it forms a soft peak and then add it to the mascarpone and lemon mixture. Chill in fridge for about half an hour, before serving a dollop of it on top of the tart.

On a sweet roll with figs

Monday, October 13th, 2008


Figs have been used for centuries as a sweetener in cooking, and fresh figs are a real delicacy – although there are a few things to look out for when buying them.

First and most importantly – use your nose. A fig that smells sour means it’s already beginning to decompose and ferment.

Figs should be clean, dry and smooth skinned. A ripe fig should be soft to the touch, but not mushy. It is important to choose ripe fruit, as unripened figs do not continue to ripen once picked.

Fresh figs are best stored in a plastic bag in the coldest part of the fridge, and used within two days. They can also be frozen – whole, sliced or peeled – in a sealed container for up to a year.

By comparison, dried figs undergo quite a process – being soaked in salted water, pressed and dried again before they are packed and shipped to our shores.

This week’s recipe is a favourite dessert at Thornton’s at this time of year. We serve it with lavender ice cream, though if you don’t want to go the whole hog and make the ice cream, a good quality vanilla ice cream is just as good.

Individual fig tart with lavender sauce (serves 4) Ingredients


8 fresh figs (thinly sliced)
50g frangipani (see below)
100g puff pastry
Lavender and almond sauce (see below)
Lavender ice cream (see below)

Lavender sauce
20g ground almonds
20g dried lavender
100g caster sugar
100ml water
Zest of one lemon

1. Place all ingredients in a stainless-steel pot and heat to just before boiling. Then remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Frangipani
50g soft unsalted butter
50g caster sugar
50g ground almonds
1 large egg
Grated zest of 1 orange

1. Sieve the flour into a bowl, add the caster sugar, butter, ground almonds, orange zest and mix with a hand blender.
2. Beat the egg and add it to the mixture and mix again.
3. Place mixture into a piping bag.

Lavender ice cream

10 egg yolks
1 vanilla pod (deseeded)
500ml cream
500ml milk
50g lavender flowers
125g icing sugar

1. Place the lavender flowers and vanilla seeds in a bowl with the milk and cream and leave overnight in the fridge.
2. Line the base of a stainless steel pot with a little water, and then add the milk and cream. Bring to the boil and remove from heat.
3. Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl, then add the sugar and whisk well. Pour half the milk and cream into the egg and sugar and whisk.
4. Pour the mixture back into the stainless-steel pot containing the rest of the milk and cream. Heat to just before boiling point, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and place in a basin of cold water to cool it quickly.
5. Spin the cool mixture in an ice cream maker if you have one. Otherwise, place in a stainless-steel bowl and freeze – removing from the freezer at intervals to stir.

To assemble
1. Cut the pastry in four rectangular shapes and place on a baking tray. Prick with a fork to ensure it doesn’t rise too much.
2. Pipe the frangipani mixture on top of each pastry and bake at 175 degrees centigrade for 10 minutes.
3. Remove from the oven and layer fig slices on top. Turn oven down to 150 degrees and return the tarts to bake for a further five minutes, then remove and brush lightly with lavender sauce.
4. Place the tart in the centre of a large plate, spoon sauce around the tart, top with a scoop of ice cream and finish by sprinkling ground almond and lavender flowers around the edges.

Kevin Thornton is a Michelin-starred chef and owner of Thornton’s Restaurant on St Stephen’s Green in Dublin.

Sharp's the word for lemons

Sunday, August 31st, 2008


A perfect finish to a light meal of fish – such as last week’s recipe for black sole – is this baked lemon pudding.

It is a sharp, lemony sponge that produces its own sauce and is easy to make. I like to serve this dish in the summer with a bowl of whipped cream, flavoured with fresh vanilla seeds from a vanilla pod, and let people help themselves to a bowl of deep red raspberries sprinkled with a little icing sugar and the juice of a lemon.

Raspberries and lemon are a wonderful combination. Another lovely dish to serve with this pudding is raspberry fool, the recipe for which is also included here. In a fool I like pieces of the fruit among the cream, but those who prefer a smoother texture can work the berries to a purée in a blender or push them through a sieve.

Sharp lemon pudding

Ingredients (serves six)
3oz butter, softened
6oz demerara sugar
Finely grated zest and juice of 4 lemons
4 large eggs, separated
2oz flour
8 tablespoons milk

Method
1. Grease the inside of a seven-inch soufflé dish with a small knob of butter. Preheat oven to 350F / 180C.
2. Using an electric or hand-held beater, cream the butter with the sugar until they form a creamy white, fluffy consistency that will form soft peaks.
3. Add the lemon zest and juice and then add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after adding each one. The mixture may curdle here, but that’s fine. Beat in the flour and then add the milk one tablespoon at a time.
4. With a wire whisk or an electric hand-held whisk, beat the egg whites until they are stiff and form peaks. Fold them gently into the mixture, ensuring they are thoroughly mixed until all the white disappears.
5. Pour the mixture into the buttered soufflé dish. Place the dish into a roasting tin and pour hot water into the tin until it comes half way up the sides.
6. Bake until the top of the pudding has risen and is golden brown (it should take about 45 minutes) and serve hot.

Raspberry fool


Ingredients (serves four)
8oz raspberries
8oz fromage frais
4oz creme fraiche or thick double cream
1 tablespoon icing sugar (for sweetening if desired)

Method
1. Crush the berries in a bowl with a fork.
2. Fold in the fromage frais and creme fraiche, slowly but thoroughly. If desired, sweeten the fool with a tablespoon of icing sugar.
3. Spoon into glasses and chill for an hour in the fridge before serving.

Kevin Thornton is a Michelin-starred chef and owner of Thornton’s Restaurant on St Stephen’s Green in Dublin. www.thorntonsrestaurant.com

A treat worth sticking with

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

I was about eight years old when I first saw caramel being concocted. As a child, it seemed to me to be a similar process to when the council was resurfacing the roads – laying the steaming hot tar with the white stripe down the middle.
I was helping out in a kitchen for the summer holidays and the chef was making the sweet treat. I marvelled at the colour of the mixture as it was changing by the second, from light brown to dark brown, right in front of my eyes. The chef said ‘‘taste it’’ and, like a fool, I did. I put my finger into the boiling-hot sugar mixture and it burned so sorely that I followed my next natural reaction, which was to stick it in my mouth. My finger stuck to my tongue and my love of caramel quickly disappeared.


Since then I have learned that you can stick your finger into caramel only if you have iced coldwater at the ready. The trick is to dip your finger into the caramel really quickly and then plunge it straight into iced cold water. The caramel instantly hardens and you can taste it safely.

To make caramel all you need is sugar and water, a heavy-duty pot, a pastry brush, coldwater and heat. However, the art of caramel-making is much more difficult than its ingredients would have you believe. Temperature and timing are crucial, so the only way around the problem of hitting the right temperature at the right time is by investing in a sugar thermometer.

A variation on simple caramel is nougat. The word comes from the Latin words ‘nux gatum’ meaning ‘nut cake’. The quality of the nougat depends crucially on the quality of the ingredients used – especially the nuts and the honey.

Honey comes in a wide variety of flavours, which reflect the area from which the honey is sourced. For example, honey from France’s Provence region will have a taste of lavender, while honey from parts of New Zealand will have a nutty or vanilla flavour.

When making nougat, bear in mind that the finished product will be soft if the temperature of the nougat is kept under 120 degrees, and hard if it rises above 150 degrees. The recipe below is for iced nougat. The nougat can be made in advance, poured on to rice paper, allowed to set and cut into blocks. Once it has cooled, it should be stored in an airtight container. The biscuits too can be prepared a few days in advance.

Iced nougat with biscuit and glazed Fruit

Iced nougat
75g sugar
25g water
75g nibbed almonds
50g hazelnuts
25g pistachio nuts
75g crystallised fruit (ginger, mango, orange peel, papaya, grapefruit peel)
4 tbsp cassis
40g egg white
75g icing sugar
18g water
41g honey
5g glucose
250g cream

Biscuit
25g soft butter
50g icing sugar
37g egg white
30g flour
1/4 orange zest
5g crushed pistachio nuts
Seeds from one vanilla pod

Fruit
50g blueberries
40g redcurrants
White of one egg
2 tbsp granulated sugar
Fruit coulis (orange is best)

Method:

Nougat
Dice the crystallised fruit and marinade in the cassis. Then whip egg whites to stiff peaks, fold in the icing sugar, and set aside. Next, whip the cream in a separate dish and add the marinated fruit.

Boil the sugar and water to 120 degrees until they form a soft caramel, then add almonds and pistachios and mix. Pour the mixture on to a greased tray and cool, then crush it up finely.

Boil the water and honey to reach 120 degrees, then let the mixture cool to 112 degrees. Mix in the crushed caramel and fold in the whipped egg whites using a metal spoon.

Place the mix into 5cm moulds. Cover and freeze for 24 hours.

Biscuit
Mix the egg whites, flour, sugar, pistachio nuts, orange zest and vanilla seeds together in a bowl. Then add the softened butter and place the mixture in the fridge for about six hours.

Grease a baking tray, roll out the biscuit dough and cut into shapes. Place the biscuits on a tray and cook in oven at 150 degrees for about eight to ten minutes or until golden brown.

Leave biscuits to cool on the tray.

Fruit

Dip the blueberries and redcurrants in egg white, remove and roll in granulated sugar. This is a way to preserve the fruit.

To serve
Arrange the fruit around the plate. Remove nougat from moulds and place in centre of plate. Arrange biscuit around. Pour on the fruit coulis (I make my own, but M&S; does a range of fresh coulis). Place some orange peel or a mint leaf on top, dust with icing sugar and serve.

Kevin Thornton is a Michelin-starred chef and owner of Thornton’s Restaurant on St Stephen’s Green in Dublin. www.thorntonsrestaurant.com

A currant work of tart

Sunday, July 13th, 2008


Sunday, July 13, 2008
By Kevin Thornton
With an abundance of fresh fruit, vegetables and salads, the summer season is a chef ’s dream. Today, most produce is available year round but, in truth, fruits and vegetables have quite a short season, meaning locally-grown produce is only available for about three weeks of the year.

So, it is extra special when your favourite fruits and veg are in season and can be bought locally. In August, for example, pick up Irish tomatoes and eat them washed, sliced and sprinkled with rock salt, a dash of olive oil and shredded basil leaves.

It is worth trying to shop and eat seasonally. If some foods aren’t in season, there are always plenty of other foods that are. At this time of year, berries such as whitecurrants, blackberries and redcurrants take centre stage. They are all so different in flavour but taste great mixed together, so they are ideal for tarts which can be prepared in advance for Sunday lunch.

I have provided the recipe for vanilla ice cream below, for which you will need to use an ice cream maker. Of course, a good quality vanilla ice cream can be used instead.

Black and whitecurrant tart with vanilla ice cream and redcurrant sauce


Ingredients, serves eight
For the short crust pastry
500g plain flour
3 egg yolks
125g granulated sugar
200g unsalted butter
5g sea salt
1 vanilla pod
1 zest of orange
100ml orange juice

Method
1. Sieve the flour into a mixing bowl and add the sugar, salt and egg yolks.

2. Cut the vanilla pod in half, remove the seeds, chop them and add to the flour. Blanch the orange zest. This removes the acid from the orange peel but keeps its flavour. To do this, cover the zest with water, bring it to the boil, strain it and then add to the mix.

3. Mix in the bowl for a few seconds.

4. Cut the butter into small cubes, soften and add to the mixture. Mix for a minute and add the orange juice a little at a time. The pastry should bind together and come cleanly away from the bowl.

5. Remove, place into a clean bowl and refrigerate for about an hour.

6. Remove the pastry. Butter the tart mould and dust it with flour. Dust the counter top with a bit of flour and roll out the pastry onto this surface. Cover the mould with the pastry and, with your hands, press the pastry into the tart tray.

7. Blind-cook the tart. This can be done by covering the pastry with parchment paper and adding dried marrowfat peas or rice onto it, to put pressure on the pastry to keep it flat while it cooks. Place it into a hot oven at 180C for five minutes.

8. Remove the paper and the rice or dried peas. Put the tart back in the oven for a further couple of minutes to finish cooking. It should be a very light brown colour.

For the pastry cream
250ml of milk
250ml of cream
A drop of still water
1 vanilla pod
125g of icing sugar
165g of plain white flour
3 egg yolks
3 whole eggs

Method:
1. Put a drop of water into a stainless-steel pot. Add the milk and cream.

2. Cut the vanilla pod in half and add the seeds to the eggs.

3. Add the pod shells to the liquid and bring to the boil.

4. Put the flour, sugar, eggs and vanilla seeds into a stainless steel bowl and mix well with a whisk until it is forms a smooth paste.

5. When the milk and cream has boiled, pour half of it into the flour and egg mixture. Mix well and pour back into the pot with the liquid.

6. Return to a low heat and stir constantly for about five minutes. Cover with a lid and place the pot over a larger pot filled with simmering water to cook for a further hour, mixing regularly.

7. Remove, place into a clean bowl and cover.

8. The secret to making pastry cream is not to rush it or take short cuts. The flour takes time to cook correctly. It keeps for a few days and can be used with all kinds of pastry filling.

For the vanilla ice cream
10 egg yolks
3 vanilla pods
500ml cream
500ml milk
10ml of still water
125g icing sugar

Method
1. De-seed the vanilla pod and add to the cream with the pods.

2. Line a stainless steel pot with water. Mix the milk and cream together and bring to the boil.

3. Whisk the egg yolks. Add the sugar and whisk well. Pour half the milk and cream into the egg-and-sugar and mix well with a whisk.

4. Pour back into the liquid. Return to a hot hob and bring to 95C using a sugar thermometer. Cook while stirring with a wooden spoon. When the back of the mixture coats the back of the spoon, remove the pot and place it into a sink of ice cold water. This cools the ice cream mix as quickly as possible.

5. When sufficiently cool, spin in an ice cream machine.

6. Remove and place in a sterilised container, then freeze until required.


To assemble the tart you will need
Pastry cream
Ice cream
Tablespoon of apricot jam
500ml vanilla ice cream
200g whitecurrants
300g blackcurrants
200g redcurrants
10g granulated sugar
8 sugared vanilla pods

Method
1. Juice 100g of redcurrants. Add a little sugar and place into a pot on a low heat. Reduce by half, then pass through a fine sieve into a clean, cool container.

2. Glaze the remaining redcurrants by dipping them into egg white and cover with granulated sugar. Leave on a sugared tray over night at room temperature. The sugar glazing protects the berries so they will last for a few days.

3. Cover the pastry base with pastry cream and line the berries on top.

4. Heat the apricot jam and cover the berries with the apricot glaze.

5. Put the tart on the plate and line the plate with the sauce. Place the sugared berries beside the sauce and serve with a few scoops of balled ice cream.

Kevin Thornton is a Michelin-starred chef and owner of Thornton’s Restaurant on St Stephen’s Green in Dublin. www.thorntonsrestaurant.com

Chocolate mousse made with love

Sunday, July 6th, 2008


Sunday, July 06, 2008
By Kevin Thornton
The first time I saw and worked with a fresh cocoa bean, I was excited. The experience was even more special, as the beans I worked with were from the plantation that supplies the chocolate we use at Thornton’s.

I was thrilled to meet the person who grows the cocoa beans that I use. To me that’s what food is about – amazing people who take huge pride in what they do and pass enormous pleasure on to others.

Then it is up to the likes of me not to mess it up as I pass it on. When so many people go to great lengths to understand and respect their produce and have such pride in what they do, it gives me enormous pleasure to work with their produce.


This is a dish I developed as an ode to the beautiful cocoa bean. It is simple and can be prepared in the morning for a dinner party or for a garden lunch in this beautiful Irish weather. Ahem. The secret when working with chocolate is firstly to ensure the product is of good quality and secondly, not to overheat it.

Remember not to be too intense when you work, as I believe cooking is all about energy. Think about the produce – the person who planted the bean, the one who looked after it while it grew, the chocolate maker, the person who cooks the recipe. Remember that it goes through a lot before it reaches its final destination. Enjoy it, as chocolate is the way into everyone’s heart.

Opera Chocolate and Mango Mousse (serves 12)

Ingredients

Chocolate mousse

500g of 65 per cent chocolate
100g of 72 per cent grated chocolate
300ml of cream
4 medium-size free range eggs
80g of icing sugar
1 litre of lightly whipped cream
4 leaves of gelatine
1/2 glass of port

Mango mousse

150ml of mango puree
50ml of passion fruit puree
1 mango diced
1 leaf of gelatine

To garnish

5 raspberries each
100 ml of chocolate glaze (100g of 72 per cent chocolate, 5 drops of almond oil)

Method

Chocolate mousse

1. Melt the chocolate in a bowl of warm water, covering the bowl with cling film so as not to allow any moisture in.

2. Boil 300ml of cream to make an anglaise. Mix the sugar and eggs together for a few seconds. When the cream comes to the boil, mix half into the egg mix and stir well. Pour the rest of the egg mix into the cream, return to the heat and cook for a few minutes or until you see the first bubble, stirring consistently. Make sure it does not boil.

3. Pour the mix into the chocolate. Melt the gelatine in the port liquid and pour into the mix. Cool the chocolate for a few minutes. Fold in the slightly whipped cream and, after 5 minutes, fold in the grated chocolate. This gives the mousse a crunch.

Mango mousse

1. Mix the mango and passion fruit puree together. Cut the fresh mango into small pieces, add the gelatine, the puree and dissolve over a low heat.

2. Pour the mango mix into 8cm moulds to about 1cm in height only. Allow to slightly set for a few minutes and then pour the chocolate into the top of the mould. Refrigerate for about five hours.

3. To finish, melt some chocolate. Mix with a little almond oil and pour over the top. This gives the finished product a beautiful shine.

To serve

Place a chocolate ring in the centre of each plate. Remove the ring and scatter plate with raspberries.

Kevin Thornton is a Michelin-starred chef and owner of Thornton’s Restaurant on St Stephen’s Green in Dublin. www.thorntonsrestaurant.com

Sweet pastry and tart lemon

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Sunday, June 29, 2008
By Kevin Thornton
When it comes to defining the seasons, sometimes we just have to ignore the weather and go with our tastebuds. It’s the summer time and summer means citrus.

Citrus fruits are light and refreshing at this time of year, and are great palate cleansers during or after a meal. This lemon tart is delicious served with fresh raspberries or with a homemade sweet sorbet.

When buying lemons it is best to opt for relatively soft ones, as these tend to contain more juice. Taste the lemon mixture as you making it and add more lemon juice if a more tangy taste is preferred.

If you’re serving the tart with afternoon tea, try making your own tisane – a herbal tea which is a nice accompaniment to this zesty dessert. It’s made by placing either fresh lime leaves or fresh mint leaves in a teapot and adding boiling water.

Tarte au citron (lemon tart)

Ingredients (serves 6-8)
Sweet pastry:
250g (8oz) flour
4 egg yolks
Half teaspoon salt
100g (3 and half oz) sugar
125g (4oz) butter
Seeds from two vanilla pods

Filling:
2 eggs
100g (3 and half oz sugar)
grated rind and juice of 1 and half lemons
125g (4oz) melted butter
60g (2oz) whole blanched
ground almonds
27-30cm/11-12 inch pie pan

Method

Sweet pastry:
1. Sift the flour onto a clean work surface and make a large well in it.

2. Put egg yolks, salt, sugar and vanilla into the well and mix with fingertips until sugar dissolves.

3. Pound the butter with rolling pin to soften, add it to the well and quickly work with other ingredients until partly mixed. Draw in flour, pulling dough into large crumbs using fingertips of both hands. Press the dough together – it should be soft but not sticky.

4. Work on small portions of the dough, pushing it away from you on the work surface, then gathering it up with a spatula, drawing it towards you and pushing away again. Continue this until the dough is smooth and pliable. Press it into a ball, wrap and chill for 30 minutes or until firm.

Lemon filling:
1. Make the sweet pastry and chill for 30 minutes or until firm. Set the oven at moderately hot (190C/375F).

2. Roll out the dough, line the pie pan and chill until firm. Bake blind in a heated oven for 12-15 minutes or until set, but not brown. Take from the oven, remove paper and let the pie shell cool slightly. Put a baking sheet in the oven to heat.

3. Meanwhile, make the filling. Beat the eggs and sugar until light and thick enough to leave a ribbon trail when the whisk is lifted. Stir in the rind and lemon juice, followed by the melted butter and ground almonds.

4. Set the pie shell in the pan on the hot baking sheet and pour the mixture into the shell. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the filling is golden brown and set. Serve at room temperature.

Kevin Thornton is a Michelin-starred chef and owner of Thornton’s Restaurant on St Stephen’s Green in Dublin.
www.thorntonsrestaurant.com